Indoor maps are used to visualize space for improved productivity, security, safety, resource planning, and overall experience.
3D indoor maps provide unique views for unique access levels, such as a first-time visitor or a property manager, giving everyone the right information to navigate, occupy, or manage the building.
A dynamic, accurate indoor map lays the groundwork for location-based alerts, real-time information sharing, and much more. Creating a 3D indoor map may seem daunting, but it comes down to having the right information about your building and following a few simple steps.
Note: This guide is a high-level overview for beginners. If you’re looking for a step-by-step walkthrough of uploading and designing maps in WRLD, try our indoor map video tutorials.
1. Define Your Goals
It’s important to define your goals early on so you know what to look for in an indoor mapping solution. For example, if you want your map to be usable by employees on a mobile device or by visitors at a kiosk, make sure your map can connect to these apps with well-documented SDKs and APIs. If you want to incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) data or HTML content from the web, make sure your map can pull in that information on a regular basis.
Depending on your space, industry, or workforce, you may have a range of different goals for your indoor map. Some common reasons for creating an indoor map include:
- Better space management and planning: Connect an indoor map to IoT devices to monitor space utilization in real-time and get important insights about how people interact with the space. Learn how certain meeting rooms, workspaces, or pieces of equipment are being used throughout the day, and monitor how this usage changes throughout the year to get the best out of the space and equipment.
- Increased productivity and performance: An increasing number of employees need collaborative workspaces to do their work effectively, but without real-time information, employees waste precious time looking for the right equipment or a place to meet. With an indoor map, you can analyze how employees move around an office or how customers move through a store to reduce bottlenecks and make more efficient use of your resources.
- Data collection and management: Streamlined, coordinated data management is a great reason to consider an indoor map. IoT devices and other content can connect directly to your 3D map, helping you visualize usage and potential problems immediately. When this data is collected over time, you can also see long-term trends in usage, recurring problem areas, and even maintenance needs.
- More efficient energy usage: An IoT-enhanced indoor map can show which floors, rooms, and even specific pieces of equipment are using the most energy or other utilities, giving you the insight to spread this usage out over a larger area. Maintenance staff can also use the map to store data for their maintenance program; with information about when inspections, tests, and regular upkeep were performed for essential equipment like boilers and HVAC systems. This improves proactive maintenance, which is cheaper to conduct and better for the long-term life of systems than reactive maintenance.
- Improved safety and security: In an emergency situation, your indoor mapping system can automatically send alerts to building occupants that shows the best way to an indoor or outdoor safe area. You could also add CPR kits, first aid kits, defibrillators, and other emergency items to the map for easy identification when needed.
- Better experience for occupants, customers and visitors: In addition to generating insights for leaders and building managers, indoor maps create a great experience for anyone who enters the building. Everyone is happier when they spend more time doing what they came to do and less time looking for their destination.
2. Decide How to Create Your Indoor Maps
Before diving into your indoor map, keep in mind that there are usually two ways to create the map: a free (or discounted) self-service map, or a paid pre-developed map.
If you use the self-service option, you will upload your map data to an indoor mapping platform like WRLD and use web-based tools and a Geographic Information System (GIS) to refine the map and add place data. The WRLD self-service indoor mapping tool is free to use, but your map and place data will be public and discoverable by others using the WRLD platform.
Alternatively you can have the platform create the map for you. WRLD indoor mapping services include modeling both the interior and exterior of the building, and the customer owns the map and places data when the map is complete.
This guide is applicable for either approach for creating an indoor map. However, keep in mind that if you don’t use the self-service option, the map platform may take care of some of these steps for you.
3. Claim Your Building
You need to “claim” your building in order to successfully create an indoor map of it. In the WRLD Indoor Map Uploader, the process is:
- Select “New Indoor Map” in the Indoor Map tool.
- Type in the name of your building.
- Enter the location of your building (either City, Nation or latitude and longitude).
- Find your building on the map. (You may need to select multiple buildings to select the whole property.)
- Click “claim building.”
WRLD will send an email to notify you when your claim is approved. However, you are not required to wait for this approval before moving ahead with your map. Keep in mind that this process may differ among mapping platforms.
4. Use Your Floor Plan to Draw Your Indoor Map
In order to translate your 2D floor plan into a 3D rendering of your space, you will need to use GIS software (WRLD uses QGIS, an open source GIS available for download. Version 2.18 is recommended).
This software is often combined with a georeferencing tool, such as the Georeferencer Plugin for QGIS, that uses latitude and longitude to make your floor plan spatially correct to your building.
Once you have GIS software installed, here are the basic steps for drawing your map:
- Choose the right coordinate reference system (CRS) for your map, depending on the platform you’re using and the output you’re looking for (WRLD uses the WGS84 CRS).
- Start with a vector outline of your map (If you use WRLD, you can use the map outline you downloaded after claiming your building in the Indoor Map tool).
- Trace the outline to ensure parallel lines and perpendicular lines are represented as such.
- Overlay your floor plan over the outline, then use the georeferencing tool to associate your 2D floor plan with the corresponding spatial location in the real world (it’s usually most efficient to start with the corners, particularly those at the very edge of the building). Once georeferencing is complete, you should see a floor plan overlaid on the outline you created.
- Once the floor plan is overlaid, you can trace building features (walls, rooms, etc.) in the GIS software.
Once you have completed these steps, you should have an outline of your building, matched with a georeferenced floor plan, where you can start to add unique building features.
5. Identify Points of Interest (POIs)
Points of interest, or POIs, in a map can help people navigate the space. POIs can include:
- Basic necessities, such as entrances/exits, stairs, elevators, and restrooms
- Safety and security items, such as the security desk, safety area, and first aid kit
- Business items, such as meeting rooms or special equipment like projectors or video conference cameras
- Amenities, such as ATMs, vending machines, microwaves, coffee counters, restaurants, and public phones
- Visitor needs, such as visitor centers and kiosks
Including POIs in your map can help create a truly comprehensive experience for visitors, employees, building managers, and others in the building.
Identify these points in your floor plan so you are prepared to identify and label them as such in QGIS (Version 2.18 recommended). Your GIS may generate labels for certain POIs, such as bathrooms or elevators, for easy identification on the map.
6. Integrate Other Data Sources
Note: There is one more step between adding POIs and integrating your other data sources: uploading your indoor map for approval and publication. This step may vary widely depending on the platform you use and whether or not you are using self-service tools. If you are using WRLD, consult our video tutorial on uploading and submitting your indoor map.
Once your map is created, you can lay the foundation for location-based alerts, real-time usage and occupancy data, and much more by connecting it to IoT data sources. Depending on your IoT and map setup, you can use APIs, SDKs, map markers, and other connection points to feed IoT and location data into your map. This can help hospitals track medical equipment, allow retail managers to see detailed heat maps of user movement, or track custom interactions in other venues.
Getting Started with Your Indoor Map
Indoor maps are a great tool for smart offices, shopping malls, airports, and many other venues. An indoor map can help conserve energy, use space efficiently, create a great experience for visitors, and even attract top talent.